NEEDED: A GEAR-SHIFT FROM RECEPTIVE TO PRODUCTIVE ENGLISH!
Hearty Good Morning to ALL of you!
My personal experience with FB has been, if I forget for a moment the friendliness of those FB guys out there in their office, that my readers are quite good at receiving and comprehending whatever thoughts and opinions I may express in English, but that they are way too diffident and shy when it comes to voicing their own feedback of my writing. So few of them seemed to give me any kind of feedback though probably they glanced through it, or read it in depth, and then passed on after clicking a LIKE button!
The ONLY consistent exception to this eerie and weird silence on the part of my FB readers, whom I took to heart for whatever they were worth, was @G.S.Chandran, who impressed me with his easy breezy familiarity with English, and his mellowness of viewpoint. When I took the trouble of meeting him on my own—I felt I owed it to myself to openly personally appreciate him!- I was not surprised to find him a gem among my FB friends for his personality traits!
Initially I was a bit demoralized by this oddity especially since I had made it my lifelong policy to lay my emphasis ONLY on those issues that either were ‘burning bright’ (somewhat like Blake’s Tyger!) across the nation or those that held within themselves the potential to cause a flare up in the near future.
Till date, my ballpark calculation is that I have covered >2000 such issues, thanks to FB and now thanks to WP!
I have a pet in this connection by name @Girija Harikumar!
She honestly told me that she couldn’t catch the meanings of many words or phrases I posted and that she sincerely wished to improve her command of the language. To me she is but a daughter quite invisible and unseen, and possibly I may not be able to see her too this life of mine! But that didn’t deter me from telling her how to go about it!
Almost all of them, when I meet them, use English with a distinct Indian and Malayali touch in their pronunciation. They speak in the thorough Indian style with a strange gudu-gudu-gudu flow frequency (too fast and too monotonous!) and have never heard of any accent or intonation at all through their education!
Even persons from Trichur area, who use their Malayalam with a high-low roller coaster mannerism, don’t seem to have any gumption of perfect English ACCENT and INTONATION!
I don’t blame them, for they are products from a silly school education system, so prevalent here!
In reality, the demoniac aspect of teaching English in this country is our basic detachment from it-though it’s not the detachment that our silver bearded monks advise! This detachment originates from our learning this tongue merely as one of the three subjects in Matriculation—as a SECOND or THIRD language!
It’s, unfortunately, way too based on RECEPTIVE language rather than PRODUCTIVE use of the same to get ahead in your life!
It’s not my contention that it must be made the first language—well it can be the mother tongue itself- but only that more PRODUCTIVE skills need to be imparted at school level by encouraging kids to SPEAK and WRITE something on their own.
Why can’t the Lower Primary teacher ask the kids to say something about their home, their parents, their surroundings their neighbors and their favorite films or bosom friends from among the classmates?
Why can’t she bring some object-say a ball or a doll – to the classroom and ask each kid to describe it as well as he or she can?
Why can’t she ask them to write 5 sentences about themselves without her help?
And finally why is it that she keeps herself at a safe distance from them instead of walking among them and monitoring whatever they speak or write?
When it comes to speaking with an excellent accent and intonation, I stand by one of the global classics-LIVING ENGLISH SPEEACH by Stannard Allen-and published by Orient Longmans.
Beautiful pronunciation—both accent and intonation– CAN certainly be given at school level without any difficulty.
AND it’s of paramount importance too once you are past 15, wherever you go and whoever you meet on the road!
You can’t survive in this world without speaking English on some occasions-and you need to speak English with a good accent when you face an Interview Board or panel!
Your very selection or rejection may depend on HOW globally acceptable and comprehensible you happen to be!
WHY my special emphasis on Lower Primary level?
Elementary! The more you use your mother tongue, the more your oral physiological system gets used to it.
It’s a gross mistake to believe that all the 44 or 47 English phonemes (which are basic units of sound like /k/ or /z/) are ‘naturally’ scattered among the 51 Malayalam sounds (which are actually (C+V) combos or equivalent to English syllables!).
Logically it’s a stupidity to think that all persons speaking Malayalam shall be able to speak English in an acceptable, comprehensible intelligible manner too!
Yes, many English plosives and affricates sound similar to our own sounds but the phonetic quality is different. Many phonemes you may have heard from foreigners as they spoke about something but not here in India!
In fact some English phonemes come from other Indo Germanic tongues and Romance tongues! Aspiration, a distinctive feature of English pronunciation, doesn’t exist in any Indian language too!
A Malayali kid, for instance, starts using his or her mother tongue around 18 months after birth (or even sooner in crowded slum areas!).English teaching begins only around Standard 3, which is when he is 8 years of age or so. ONLY a little ‘harm’ has been done this far through using own mother tongue, when it comes to learning a new series of sounds from an alien language!
The system takes little time to get used to this new language and its new sounds. The little boy or girl switches back and forth with a smooth gear shift.
Given the reality that there is NO FREE LUNCH to be had in this whole world, its wiser and better, if not a mark of parental and teacher responsibility, to empower the kids who happen to be one’s wards!
By teaching English with earnest involvement, you are not only getting a lot of feedback on your teaching competence and also having some laughter in every class session but also actually empowering the kids to earn his daily bread anywhere on this planet!
Be a great teacher please!